You'll have to excuse me, I'm a bit in a fugue these past few days. This morning I realized I had been in major PMS (ah lovely womanhood)... until today.
On the porch, I had tons of sentences ready for les grandparents.... let's see if I can indeed ably whip it out:
These are the parents of my mother - Annie Ruth Doyal and John Joseph Sutherland...
When I was a child - are all children? - I was very interested in my grandmother's photo albums. I would look at them every time I was at her house. I don't know how old I was, but way more than five when I asked my mother what it was like when the world turned to colour.
At the point that I met her, until her second stroke, Grandmommy lived in Decatur, GA in the Brittany Apartments. This was a pink bricked building complex that housed no children - they weren't allowed. My grandmother had a whole gaggle of old lady friends: louise the bossy stocky swimmer, zena taylor the talker, aunt anne (my grandmother's sister in low - widow of clay sutherland), and aunt martha (the widow of Roy sutherland)
All three of us: billy, meri, and myself have a thing for grandmother sutherland. She was our light. She was our unconditional love.
For me, (I came on the scene nine years after my sister and eleven after my bro), grandmother sutherland was a fairyland - a haven.... When my family would come and pick me up after a visit with her (and I would visit her once a month or so) - I would wail. I wanted to stay with her. My father (when he was on the scene) used to get quite irritated with me and accuse me of not wanting to live in our family. Too true. [pb] Grandmother Sutherland and Grandaddy Martin were the only living grandparents in my childhood. They both had toy closets exclusively for me (or rather a section in the closet for me).... I have a very different story than my brother and sister.
In my grandmother's closet, was lined loose leaf 3-hole paper WITH a pretty flowered border on the left. I was quite the drawer. I would draw princesses.
My grandmother had a beautiful wooden four-poster bed that was her wedding present bed. She had a vanity full of make-up - rouge and charlie parfum. She had a wig. She wore polyester - elastic wasteband pants exclusively. She had a jewelry box full of clip-on earrings.
In her bedroom, she had those cool 2" metal blinds with tape on the sides (like the film noir blinds) which I have replicated in every home I have ever owned. Next to her bed, she had two portraits or her daughters hanging one on top of the other. One is the one I showed you in the last post. I would always make sure my mother's portrait was on top.
On her bedside table she had a little clock radio that in the summers we would listen to the braves as told by skip carey. This was in the days when gaylord perry was involved in the braves, and our team NEVER was above last or second to last.
The bedroom is important to me. She would tell me stories, and we would giggle and laugh. He stories were always about a little girl (me, me, me) who solves adventures or grows up into something wonderful.
My mother - when she stayed there as well - would complain of hearing us giggle into the wee hours. She was jealous. To her, her mother was a judger who preferred aunt linda to her.
When I awoke every morning, I could smell the peach cobbler baking. My grandmother always made me my favorite things: fried okra, toast tite cheese sandwiches, roast beef, mayfield ice cream with hershey's syrup.... (SHE would order my hamburgers at McDonalds without onions whereas my mother would ignore me and tell me to scrape them off - very hard to get ALL the onions off).
I would swim in the pool. Every evening me and grandmommy and the gaggle of old ladies would take an evening walk. I loved going up to the branch of the complex that had the crabapple trees in the island in the middle of the cul de sac.
Grandmommy (as she was called until she had her stroke, then I named her 'granny' because I hated granny on the 'beverly hillbillies') also had an easy chair that used to be my grandfather's sanctuary. It vibrated if you flipped the metal switch on the side. [pb] As I've told you, with southern women, the man is pretty important.
Granddaddy Sutherland was someone I never met.
Here are things I know about him: 1. he was soooo happy when my brother was born. He finally had a boy. Billy was a genius child, and when he was three, he could write my grandfather notes in the hospital - where my grandfather died of lung cancer at age 58.
2. He was a very good businessman. Working for colonial bread (the stock he bought is still making my mother and aunt well-off --- even though mother had to sell some of hers to pay daddy's debts.) His final job was as a partner in a funeral home. This was all in macon. My grandmother moved to atlanta to get away and be closer to her family in villa rica and my aunt and the other widows.
3. My mother always thought he didn't love her like he did aunt linda. He totally begged her to not marry my father. He had had him checked out and did not like what he saw. My mother could have had anyone. However, when my mother finally reached out to them as the finances were atrocious in her marriage, my grandfather did not say a judgmental word or look. He helped her straighten it out, paid her debts, and said that she could pay him off from the money she had to borrow.
4. He was a big time shriner.
5. He was tall and handsome... the youngest of six. The sutherlands were rather more city than the doyals.
6. He smoked cigars and cigarettes.
7. Upon his death, many things about him were learned: he provided for his family very well. He was a secret benefactor in the community. My aunt remembers some poor immigrant man coming to the door on the day of the funeral - after it was all over -. The man said he was unable to go to the funeral, but just wanted to tell her what a great man her father was - that Joe had helped him and his family in a time of real crisis. The man had his hat in his hand - crying. He was a good man.
8. He met my grandmother at her family's general store in Villa Rica. He was a bread salesman. This was the depression.
9. My mother says that although her mother did not like my grandfather's drinking, they laughed and danced had a great social life and family network. They were happy. They even had a daily maid - Mattie - who lived in Macon's shanty town. She had to use a different set of towels and had a separate bathroom and sleeping nook for when they needed her to babysit. They weren't rich. This was just the way it was then if you were prosperous.
10. My mother discovered in the will that an amount was set aside for her to receive... it was the money that she had paid him back from the bills.
11. Because my mother partied tooo much when she went to the university of georgia, after her first year - my grandfather bribed her to attend mercer in macon by buying her a candy apple red chevy convertible. She was the shit. She met my father at mercer.
I wear my grandmother's wedding ring on my left hand and my "real" wedding ring on my right hand. [pb]